The superintendent of Warren County Public Schools says the new dropout policy that will be implemented statewide creates increased challenges for teachers and principals.

Rob Clayton took over as head of Warren County schools last week, and supports increasing the dropout age to 18. It was announced Wednesday that over 55 percent of Kentucky schools districts had voted to boost their dropout ages.

That means the policy will go into effect for all public school systems in the state within the next four years.

"It's an increased burden on the adults in the schools to not only make sure our students are engaged, but to ensure that they are learning and that we're meeting their needs," said Clayton, who came to Warren County after working in the Oldham County school system.

He told WKU Public Radio he thinks the increased dropout age will "raise the accountability level" for both students and educators, something he thinks will benefit all parties involved.

Kentucky is inching closer to a mandatory increase in the dropout age for public school students. As of Tuesday, 92 school districts had adopted the new minimum dropout age of 18, leaving the state only four districts shy of the number needed to make the higher age mandatory statewide.

"And once we reach 96, that would be the 55 percent we need for the policy to go statewide within four years," said Kentucky Education Department Spokesman Nancy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez adds that school boards that voted on raising their dropout ages Monday night are expected to have mailed their documentation to Frankfort Tuesday. Once that paperwork gets to Frankfort, it could push the state over the 55 percent threshold.

Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year that allowed each school district to hold a vote on raising the dropout age to 18. The law also says that if 55 percent of school districts adopted the new dropout age, it would became policy statewide.

Advocates for raising the dropout age in Kentucky have a new hope heading into the next legislative session. Currently, Kentucky law allows 16-year-olds to dropout of school with parental permission. And education advocates have pushed to raise the minimum dropout age to 18.

Dropout bills have consistently failed in Frankfort, but advocates are emboldened this year now that former Senate President David Williams is no longer in the General Assembly.

But new Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says that doesn't mean the bill is a sure thing.

“Because there are legitimate policy concerns we have had with raising the dropout age to 18," the Georgetown Republican says.

Hardin County Schools will use a $1 million  grant from the Defense Department to bolster dropout prevention efforts. The grant announced Thursday in Elizabethtown will pay for counseling programs for at-risk students, extended school services, and random drug testing at the district’s alternative school for troubled students.